She died. While I was on vacation, and not thinking about it, she died. I sent her a card, but I took eons to get it in the mail. I’m not sure she received it in time. Who will open the card? With the octopus, inside, promising a hug with all 8 arms. Who will sift through her things and decide whether the card is kept or tossed?
She died. I had kept such good tabs on her over the last several weeks, even installing messenger app to be able to more easily communicate with her. We texted a few times each day. When she said that things were getting bad, I started sending messages where I insisted she needn’t message back unless she wanted to. I told her that she could let me know if there was anything she needed, anything she wanted to talk about.
She died. I am living. Her cancer came back. Mine has stayed at bay. It whispers warnings on the wind, crashing the waves against the shore and rocking the boats as they travel on their way, but still it stays away. What did my cancer have that hers did not? What luck was I doled that she did not receive? What clemency did I earn in this life or another? I do not sit on these musings, I do not feel them rooted in my soul, I do not stew…but I breathe the thoughts in and out. I feel their depth and their impact. I acknowledge their power and shift them aside.
She died. She did not pass, she did not lose, she did not battle. I hope she knew that she could talk to me. That I would have listened to her think about death and dying, that I would have sat with her as she analyzed the movement from living to dying to death. I hope, that in some small way, I helped. I hope that she was surrounded by those who made her not afraid. I hope, I hope, I hope.
She died. And what does it all mean? The idea of her living on inside of me, that I am better because I knew her, even in the small fraction that I did. What does that mean? What do I do with that piece when I cannot give it back to her? When I cannot make her whole again? When I want to give it back and make her whole?
She died. Can she think, can she see, can she sense, can she breathe, can she feel the universe in a way unimaginable? I hope so. I hope, I hope, I hope.
How would you respond to the writing prompt, of a photo of the grim reaper?
This writing comes directly from one of our participants in our Unspoken Ink Creative Writing Group for young adult cancer survivors. The participants meet for 2 hours each week, for 10 weeks during our Fall 2016 session. This writing has not been edited since its original creation, showing the wonderfully raw and powerful prose coming from the courageous writing group participants each week. If you’d like to sign up for future sessions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up on our interest form.